!!! – Wallop (Warp)

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With the like of The Rapture, Radio 4 and Out Hud having fallen by the wayside during the intervening years, it often feels like !!! and LCD Soundsystem are the last remaining survivors of NYC’s fervent early noughties punk-punk / indie-dance scene. While James Murphy and company have benefited from an initial break-up that turned into a critically lauded “reunion” though, the ever-productive !!! have simply kept plugging away, releasing a steady stream of albums whilst seemingly constantly touring.

If 2017’s ‘Shake The Shudder’ offered up one of their strongest collections in a while, this eighth album ‘Wallop’ sees that trend continuing. If anything, there’s more of an emphasis on programmed rhythms and synthetic backings to be found on the 14 tracks collected here, compared to the live bass and drums driven rhythm section of their earlier albums such as ‘Myth Takes’.

Whatever the case, ‘Let It Change U’ offers up a stormer of an opening, unleashing a bass synth-driven disco-house workout that sets Nic Offer’s fluid vocal delivery against surging electronics and crisp electro drum machine breakdowns – if !!! are operating with a slightly slimmed down lineup compared to their earlier days, it certainly hasn’t resulted in any reduction in the hugeness of their grooves.

‘Couldn’t Have Known’ meanwhile curiously recalls Basement Jaxx as strummed acoustic guitars get cut up and reassembled against broken house rhythms and pitched-up vocal samples, whilst also offering up one of this album’s most breezy and loose-sounding moments, Chicago house breakdown section and all.

Elsewhere, the glittery New Wave pop-centred ‘Serbia Drums’ offers up a knowing lyrical nod towards !!!’s years working in smaller venues than some of their more feted peers(“we’ve known working in obscurity, and we’ll know it again”), before ‘$50 Million’ offers up one of !!!’s biggest dancefloor stormers in years as well as one of their most barbed lyrical payoffs (“50 thousand dollars wouldn’t change my mind / but 50 million more just might”) as dark bass sequences slide between jangling guitar riffs, chanted backing vocals and dive-bombing distorted synths. Eight albums and 23 years into their musical evolution, !!! are sounding as healthy as ever on ‘Wallop’.

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